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Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church, that topp'd the neighbouring
hill, The hawthorn bush, with seats beneath the shade, For talking age, and whispering lovers made. How often have I bless'd the coming day, When toil remitting lent its turn to play, And all the village train, from labour free, Led up their sports beneath the spreading tree, While many a pastime circled in the shade, The young contending, as the old survey'd; And many a gambol frolick'd o'er the ground, And sleights of art, and feats of strength went round. And still, as each repeated pleasure tired, Succeeding sports the mirthful band inspired: The dancing pair that simply sought renown, By holding out, to tire each other down; The swain mistrusdess of his smutted face, While secret laughter titter'd round the place; The bashful virgin's sidelong looks of love, The matron's glance, that would those looks reprove. These were thy charms, sweet village! sports like
these, With sweet succession, taught e'en toil to please; These round thy bowers their cheerful influence shed, These were thy charms—but all these charms are fled.
Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn, Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn; Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen, And desolation saddens all thy green: One only master grasps the whole domain, And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain. No more thy glassy brook reflects the day, But, choked with sedges, works its weedy way; Along thy glades, a solitary guest, The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest; Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies, And tires their echoes, with unvaried cries. Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all, And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall; And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand, Far, far away thy children leave the land.
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay: Princes and lords may flourish, or may fade; A breath can make them, as a breath has made; But a bold peasantry, their country's pride, When once destroy'd, can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England's griefs began,
But times are alter'd; trade's unfeeling train
Sweet Auburn! parent of the blissful hour,
Remembrance wakes, with all her busy train, Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
In all my wanderings round this world of care, In all my griefs—and God has given my share— I still had hopes, my latest hours to crown, Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down; To husband out life's taper at the close, And keep the flame from wasting, by repose; I still had hopes, for pride attends us still, Amidst the swains to shew my book-learn'd skill, Around my fire an evening group to draw, And tell of all I felt, and all I saw: And as an hare, whom hounds and horns pursue, Pants to the place from whence at first she flew, I still had hopes, my long vexations pass'd, Here to return—and die at home at last.
O bless'd retirement, friend to life's decline, Retreats from care, that never must be mine; How happy he who crowns, in shades like these, A youth of labour with an age of ease; Who quits a world where strong temptations try, And, since 'tis hard to combat, learns to fly! For him no wretches, born to work and weep, Explore the mine, or tempt the dangerous deep;